Not many people can claim they have completed seven different marathons, one on each continent, but Danvers resident Bonnie Hallinan is now a member of the select ‘Seven Continents Club’.
What is most remarkable is she completed all seven in less than three years.
It all started in Boston in 2006 for Hallinan, 66, who taught physical education in Salem for many years and is now instructing activity classes in tennis, weight training, jogging, and diet and exercise at Salem State University.
“I ran Boston to prepare for an Ironman event I was going to do,” said Hallinan, who is an ultra trail runner, triathlete and Ironman competitor. “Once I started thinking about doing one on each continent I planned to finish before I was 70-years old but wound up completing the task in much less time.”
Hallinan just returned from her last continent challenge in Australia. The Oceania Marathon took place in the outback area and attracted 400 people in an international field.
“In 2012 my daughter and I went to Iceland for a marathon,” said Hallinan. “I met some people while I was there who told me about the Seven Continents Club (there are less than 600 men and women throughout the world that have achieved this feat). I was a casual runner in college, but it wasn’t until I was in my late 40’s that I became more competitive and started doing road races. That led to triathlons, and two Ironmen. The first was at Lake Placid, and then in 2008 I did an Ironman in Panama City.”
Hallinan travels to all the races with her daughter, Lindsay Hallinan, who also lives in Danvers.
“Lindsay has traveled with me to all the marathons except the one in Antarctica. We don’t just go for the race, but spend time seeing the sights and enjoy a vacation,” she said. “The last trip to Australia at the beginning of this month was very long. I had jet lag so I took a week and a half off to recover.”
Hallinan’s other marathons were in Peru in South America, Mongolia in Asia, and Kenya in Africa. She said she is not done yet even though she completed all seven, doing two last year when she ran in Antarctica in March and then did the Sunrise to Sunset in Mongolia in August.
“Lindsay wants to go to Finland so maybe we’ll do that next summer and go to St. Petersburg, Russia. I really want to go to Alaska and maybe do a trail run in Hawaii. Those are places I haven’t gone yet. I love to do ultra trail runs, too. I’ve done a 50K and a 100K with plans for a couple more in the fall.
“I’m always training. I take some recovery time, but I try to have a goal for what’s next. I’ve met so many people through racing. I enjoy it a lot; I really do.”
Hallinan grew up in Marblehead and went to Catholic schools until attending Marblehead High School where she got her first taste of sports.
“The only experience I had with sports was CYO basketball until I discovered tennis and volleyball in high school,” she said. “Everything was brand new to me, and of course back then they didn’t offer a lot of sports for girls. I went on to play tennis at UMass and intramural basketball and volleyball, too. I discovered women’s soccer when I was in my 40’s, and that was a lot of fun. I’ve always loved physical activities.”
Hallinan has found her passion in marathon and ultra trail runs. She has also been an inspiration for countless female athletes. She is already thinking about what’s next on her bucket list.
“I always like to be planning my next trip,” she said. “I don’t know what it’s going to be yet, but I’ll think of something.”